or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › Tasting the food you cook.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Tasting the food you cook.

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

When did the practice of not tasting the food you cook become some kind of normal behavior for up and coming young chefs? 

This is a situation I encountered this weekend at a local food and wine festival and in the past more times than I care to remember.  Because this forum seems to have a world wide reach and a diverse audience, I'm putting it out there in the hope of getting it to stop. 

It is imperative that you taste the food you are cooking. Doing so tells you many things and is an integral part of the cooking process, not to be dismissed or considered unnecessary. 

I am at a loss as to how to respond when talking to a younger chef who has a responsible position in a restaurant and reveals that he/she doesn't taste the food they cook. This is usually said with a knowing smile or smirk, as if it is some sign of their competence and superiority. I don't want to sour an otherwise pleasant discussion but when I hear this my blood begins to boil so I usually cut the conversation short. 

If you read this and are one of those chefs who do not taste the food you are cooking as you cook it, please provide a detailed justification for this behavior. I would also like to know where you learned it and which professional chef or instructor told you it was okay.  

post #2 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post

. I don't want to sour an otherwise pleasant discussion but when I hear this my blood begins to boil so I usually cut the conversation short. 

  

That is sad to read. Ask them personally who taught them this practice, or better yet, who didn't teach them.

 

If they are never asked/called out about such a bad practice, they'll never change their habits.

 

My chef always stresses tasting the food, taste taste taste, I don't care if you've made the dish 100 times, taste it before it goes out, no excuses.

post #3 of 27

I like to taste as I cook, without a doubt; however it is not always practical such as when working the line of a busy restaurant. If you are working saute, doing 300 dinners, and sauces ala minute, it just isn't going to happen with every plate, not to mention how do you taste fish before sending, etc.

 

After years of working saute, I just feel a confidence, an ease, a naturalness at doing tasks that I have done thousands of repetitive times. It is hard to try to explain, but it is similiar to trying to explain taste memory or palate memory. The attribute where you can compose a dish in your head and practically taste it without actually preparing it, but still knowing the flavors work. I have talked with other chefs that know what I am talking about, but lots of people just at me and go huh when I am trying to explain it..

 

A few years back, a restaurant I was working at entered me in a mystery basket chef challenge competition. Not my idea, as I avoid the spotlight as much as possible. After the compettion I was talking to some of the judges, doing the schmoozze. Once again not my thing, but part of my job. They all expressed amazement that I never tasted anything during the competition. I am sure that I looked at them with a totally blank stupid stare on my face as I replied that I wasn't aware that I hadn't. They assured that I did not do any tasting and they were flabbergasted, even more so because they felt I did the best job and awarded me first place in the compettion.

 

There ia a difference between arrogance and confidence. It can be a very thin line, and I am sure that at times I cross between them, but I am very comfortable with my abilities.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
post #4 of 27

I agree that you cannot possibly taste every dish, regardless of what station you're on.

 

When I used to work a grill station, I certainly couldn't taste a piece of a 9oz filet before I sent it out.

 

Same thing goes for a saute'station in which i'm trying to pump out 10 fish dishes that all use a pan sauce.

 

I think a lot of it is being consistant with your seasoning(s), make that dish 100 times and make it the same exact way everytime. If you get 1-2 sent back out of 100, i'd say you're doing a damn good job of making sure your seasoning and product is correct, the best you can.

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies. Before we get too far afield, I'll clarify. I am not talking about during service when doing hundreds of covers or doing the exact same dish over and over and over.

What I am referring to is not tasting AT ALL.  As in making a salad dressing. making a batch of sauce, making a braise or making a soup. As in "I don't have to taste, I'm just that good". And also asking me for confirmation that the food they prepared was great when they know for a fact that I never tasted it. 

post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post

Thanks for the replies. Before we get too far afield, I'll clarify. I am not talking about during service when doing hundreds of covers or doing the exact same dish over and over and over.

What I am referring to is not tasting AT ALL.  As in making a salad dressing. making a batch of sauce, making a braise or making a soup. As in "I don't have to taste, I'm just that good". And also asking me for confirmation that the food they prepared was great when they know for a fact that I never tasted it. 

There's no excuse for that, all of those things should be tasted while cooking, multiple times, as well as when the product is done.

 

 

That could possibly be a management problem, if the chef(s) aren't supervising, or aren't tasting the products themselves, then that will roll down hill to the cooks, too.

post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post

What I am referring to is not tasting AT ALL.  As in making a salad dressing. making a batch of sauce, making a braise or making a soup. As in "I don't have to taste, I'm just that good".

 

I concur, that is totally unacceptable. That attitude would not fly in my kitchen except out the back door as they were on their way to the unemployment office.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
post #8 of 27
Quote:

 but when I hear this my blood begins to boil so I usually cut the conversation short.

Now do you mean boil, broil or bake, there IS a difference. tongue.gif

 

There are several reasons to taste. Even sauces made a thousand times etc.

For one, mistakes do happen, especially during battle, and especially with more than one

chef floating about. (I once turned around to my worktable and my cornstarch slurry was...gone.

My boss thought it was milk. And used it. Taste taste taste!)

 

There was another time when I made a couple cups of the same cream sauce I could recite backwards.

I didn't always taste it, and was short on time, but this time I dipped a spoon in it anyway just to see if it needed

anything. And it tasted burnt. I have no idea why. If I hadn't tasted it....out the pass and into the mouths of babes.

 

But mostly what I find when tasting soups, sauces, fillings  and the like, are what it NEEDS. More garlic.

More salt. More kick. And it's common to have to taste 3 or 4 times. Ohhh it's ALLLL edible. Not the point.

If we don't like it, how can we blame someone else for not liking it? And if we don't taste it, we're just

gambling with all our sweat, time and sore feet. IMO, if Im gonna work my derrier off, it may as well taste rockin'!

post #9 of 27

Tasting is a wasted effort, I mean, come on, we all know that all the ingredients we use are always the same, right?

 

A tomato is a tomato, a steak is a steak, a potato is a potato, the list goes on and they never vary, right?

 

We all measure with absolute precision, whether by weight to the nearest 1/10 gram, carefully leveled teaspoon, or exact pinch, right?

 

The Chef has written the recipes are written with precision and one never varies from the recipe, right?

 

And we NEVER make mistakes, after all we're all professionals, right!

 

If one believes the above, they are in the wrong vocation and need to be shown the door!

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

Tasting is a wasted effort, I mean, come on, we all know that all the ingredients we use are always the same, right?

 

A tomato is a tomato, a steak is a steak, a potato is a potato, the list goes on and they never vary, right?

 

We all measure with absolute precision, whether by weight to the nearest 1/10 gram, carefully leveled teaspoon, or exact pinch, right?

 

The Chef has written the recipes are written with precision and one never varies from the recipe, right?

 

And we NEVER make mistakes, after all we're all professionals, right!

 

If one believes the above, they are in the wrong vocation and need to be shown the door!

I thought someone hacked your account for a minute, lol.gif

post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

Tasting is a wasted effort, I mean, come on, we all know that all the ingredients we use are always the same, right?

 

A tomato is a tomato, a steak is a steak, a potato is a potato, the list goes on and they never vary, right?

 

We all measure with absolute precision, whether by weight to the nearest 1/10 gram, carefully leveled teaspoon, or exact pinch, right?

 

The Chef has written the recipes are written with precision and one never varies from the recipe, right?

 

And we NEVER make mistakes, after all we're all professionals, right!

 

If one believes the above, they are in the wrong vocation and need to be shown the door!

Actually Pete, I think you have described the corporate mentality that has led to a lot of cooks not tasting their food - they are not allowed to.  Corporate can see food tasting as filthy double-dipping and a waste of time and product.  I know of at least one corporate chain where food tasting is not permitted.  I am sure there are many.  They are not going to spend an extra $15 a month on plastic tasting spoons, they are not going to waste time to make sure only clean spoons are used, and how can they tell if workers are just eating all their food and profits or tasting for quality?  


Edited by Coup-de-Feu - 1/21/13 at 12:26am
post #12 of 27

How can you actually produce anything of quality without tasting??? When making sous and such like, I find myself tasting at least 15 times, trying to figure out what it needs, i.e. acidity, heat, salt, sweetness, whatever. Then I add what's needed carefully and in increments so as not to ruin it. Then I wait for it to cool off a bit and taste again. 15 times? More like 20 times, thinking about it. It's an integral part of the job description!
 

post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post

Thanks for the replies. Before we get too far afield, I'll clarify. I am not talking about during service when doing hundreds of covers or doing the exact same dish over and over and over.

What I am referring to is not tasting AT ALL.  As in making a salad dressing. making a batch of sauce, making a braise or making a soup. As in "I don't have to taste, I'm just that good". And also asking me for confirmation that the food they prepared was great when they know for a fact that I never tasted it. 

this is an obvious situation.   its unacceptable and thats all there is to it.   how much deeper can you dig here?

post #14 of 27

even though you stick to a given recipe or formula, I think finished product should be spot tasted for consistancy. Tomatoes are not the same all the time and neither are  a lot of other key ingredients.

CHEFED
Reply
CHEFED
Reply
post #15 of 27

As far as tasting is concerned, I would think that before service begins Chef goes through the line and tastes all sauces, tests vegetables, and check the proteins.

In restaurants where sauces are made "a la minute," the Chef can still check on things.

 

As in all things in the kitchen I would think that since the Chef is the one in charge, he/she should have the last say on everything the cooks make.

post #16 of 27
Tasting is the most inportant part of making anything in a kitchen. If you do not taste how do you know that what you are making is up the your standards or the guests that will be eating the food. I once had a guy I worked for that used to yell at me when I would taste a demi glaze while cooking it or a tomato sauce because he said people were complaining they could see me "eating food" threw the pass. What upset me the most was the owner didn't defend me infact defended the costumer. Saying that it was an unpleasant sight. Then next thing you know he's at the pass asking. "What's going on with the minestone. People say it has no flavor." Well duh! You told your chefs to stop tasting in plan sight of the kitchen. Well there's only one kitchen in the place that was an open kitchen at that.

In the kitchen if you are working in a place that does say 300 people a night and run threw your first 4L insert. Upon switching the insert taste the first few dishes to make sure the perticular element that is fresh to the line is in fact that what you think it is and exceptable.
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies. I'm glad you all confirmed what I thought was obvious. @Smork. There isn't any deeper you can dig. As you say, it is unacceptable. Unfortunately, I have encountered several young cooks, sous chef of a popular high end restaurant and the chef/owner of a local cafe who all told me they do not taste the food they serve, all with the same silly, knowing smile on their face. I was beginning to think I was not understanding something. I will not let it go by any more. 

And thank you for your support. 

post #18 of 27

I've noticed that as well. I'm fairly young for my position, but have plenty of experience. My dad was also a chef. I got in the habit of tasting food at a young age when I was cooking at home and just getting my start in restaurants. My father used to pop me upside the head if I didn't taste my food before calling it "done." That broke me of that bad habit at a young age. All of the cooks working for me now NEVER taste their food before serving. I have to come up behind them and check/micromanage. These are all guys 5-10 years my senior, who have more experience. I'm completely baffled. Maybe it's an ego thing on their part?..or maybe previous employers are to blame.

post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by unintended boy View Post

Maybe it's an ego thing on their part?..or maybe previous employers are to blame.

If it is present behavior, than the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of present management. Whatever people did or didn't do at past places of employment, who cares?

 

What you do or don't do in my kitchen, that is an entirely different matter.

 

I am not at fault for people's bad habits when they start employment with me, it is however up to me to correct or rectify any that surface and if I don't, then I am not doing my job.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
post #20 of 27
There is no justification. The explanation is either laziness or lack of learning.
post #21 of 27

Chefwriter, I truly,just truly cannot wrap my head around this issue of not tasting.  Yes agreed,we are constantly preparing pan-sauces,butter sauces and even our creme sauces are going to be consistent just due to the fact of repetition and hopefully the use of common ingredients. But for Gods sakes,all the different  Techniques we use such as braising,roasting,stewing,poaching,a confit process on and on. Even the process of Searing-"The Maillard Reaction"  yes it is  always a complex chemical reaction of protiens,amino acids and carbohydrate molecules, but there are still variations based upon the protiens and heat sources we use. Were still talking about variations in flavor. The most important flavors of any given preparation are those of it's main ingredients. Ok,so a grilled Beef Tenderloin Steak should taste like beef,green beans should taste like green beans and tomato soup should taste primarily of tomato. But let's face it improperly seasoned foods are pretty darn one-dimensional. So it is the cooks/chefs job to add interest by combining ingredients to build "Depth of Flavor"  It is my thought that any young and upcoming cook needs to learn the concept of "Building Flavor Profiles". You know,the harmony of ingredient flavors and aromas the cook creates skillfully , we call the flavor profile!  Now PLEASE, to my peers

out there I hope you don't feel like I'm ranting,but we all know that young upcoming cooks/chefs read these commentaries! And they shouldn't walk away from this Forum misinformed. Not to say in any way I'm some type of authority,I just cook for a living and I'm damn good at it. Only because I made that professional commitment and kept to it for the past 35 yrs. Anyway,off my damn soapbox. NO this is NOT an issue that we should say,"there isn't any deeper to dig ,it's just unacceptable"  Younger ppl. read this stuff!!! Taste,taste and taste again. The whole way through "simplicity and complexity" Yes, the tongue perceives 4 basic sensations: salty,sweet,bitter and sour. How about "Umami"? The identification of the Fifth. Long been recognized by Asian cultures. Sense receptors on the tongues reaction to certain amino acids. Componants of protiens. Often translated as "meatiness".  Folks,I just get so infuriated as Chefwriter when young cooks/chefs attain that almost "Self-entitlement" (if that's the proper,What? Adjective?)  that everything they prepare is balanced properly because "Hey,I made it and I already know it's good" That's disheartening. I've been doing this a long time and thankfully I still know what I don't know. THAT'S DARN EXCITING!  And as far as buying a case of plastic spoons?  The Hell Man. Use em on the line.use em in the pass and I use em with my runners too! Why shouldn't they ALSO know how important taste is?  Ya know ,I'd love to hear what Harold McGee's take would be on this issue. Take Care All! Happy Cooking,Happy Travels..Be safe.


Edited by PROCHEFXAVIER - 1/26/13 at 10:17am
post #22 of 27
As a home cook I even taste the foods I make before serving to my friends, family and myself of the finished product to perfect it. How can you not taste the food you cook to be able to perfect it before serving? If serving to paying customers it is vital all chefs taste their sauces etc...... to be able to perfect their dishes many times before serving. If not and the customers find the dishes lack taste or is too overpowering, your business will lose profit and employees will lose their jobs also. So tasting and perfecting is imperative in the culinary trade.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by unintended boy View Post

I've noticed that as well. I'm fairly young for my position, but have plenty of experience. My dad was also a chef. I got in the habit of tasting food at a young age when I was cooking at home and just getting my start in restaurants. My father used to pop me upside the head if I didn't taste my food before calling it "done." That broke me of that bad habit at a young age. All of the cooks working for me now NEVER taste their food before serving. I have to come up behind them and check/micromanage. These are all guys 5-10 years my senior, who have more experience. I'm completely baffled. Maybe it's an ego thing on their part?..or maybe previous employers are to blame.

it is not micro managing if you do it every day.   not to highjack,but how long have you worked at this place unintended boy?    

post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SquirrelRJ View Post

I thought someone hacked your account for a minute, lol.gif

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SquirrelRJ View Post

I thought someone hacked your account for a minute, lol.gif

AMEN! RJ. Spot on,simply clarified....Like "Raft" to consomme' .

post #25 of 27

I'm not trying to beat a dead horse, because there is clearly a consensus.  I'm twenty one years old and I think I learned the first time when something came back with a complaint and the chef, sous, owner &FOH manager all tasted it off the plate.  I was called over and asked to try it and tell them what was wrong with it.  I was at fault and it was ill prepared because I didn't taste before putting it on the plate.  There is no excuse, everything must be excellent.  The food that is sent back to my kitchen never goes to the garbage.  Everyone takes a minute to taste it in order to get an idea on how to handle the situation with the customer. i.e - Maybe it is absolutely perfect but the customer complains it is over salted.. in a re-fire or if it is a new item ordered you know that this individual is sensitive to salt. 

 

Now, to add a new aspect to the thread... learning how to taste is a whole other task.  I can admit for weeks.. and even to this day with foods that I'm not familiar with, my chef and I will taste my creations and he will adjust and say try this now.  "Oh wow, I didn't know it was possible to develop those flavors in a butternut squash coulis! Thank you chef, now I know."

 

I love it.  Friday comes - Oh wait, I get paid to do this?!  I get paid to TASTE food? lol.gif

post #26 of 27
Cook at my work who gets the good hours never taste and is always taking my taste spoons. Bothers me.
I don't taste fries every time or every steak for example. Is that bad? Don't taste prepped lasagna either.
I taste every sauce(ie marsala picatta Alfredo and so on) and most every thing else.

"Prep cooks should taste everything to!"

People pay for the food so if I don't like it they don't get it.

No excuse really. If you can remember like 5 6 or 7 steps to a dish they can squeeze In fasting step.
There is my thoughts on the subject. Nice to let them out after long Sunday night shift understaffed as usual
post #27 of 27
As a younger sous chef I can tell you that I was trained to taste everything multiple times throughout the process of making stocks, sauces, etc. My chef taught me to pay attention to how the flavor changes and develops. It also helped develop my pallet. During service I check for consistency every few orders.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › Tasting the food you cook.